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Moore County substation attack

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Moore County substation attack
Damaged substation fence in Moore County.webp
Damaged substation fence in West End
LocationMoore County, North Carolina, U.S.
DateDecember 3, 2022 (2022-12-03)
c. 7:00 p.m. (EST)
TargetDuke Energy substations
Attack type

On December 3, 2022, a shooting attack was carried out on two electrical distribution substations located in Moore County, North Carolina, United States. Damage from the attack left up to 40,000 residential and business customers without electrical power. Initial estimates were that up to four days could be required to fully restore power in the area. A state of emergency and corresponding curfew were enacted by local government officials in the wake of the incident.[1]


Less than two weeks prior to the Moore County substation incident, the FBI had sent a report to private industry in which they stated that there had been an increase in reported threats to electric infrastructure from people who espouse “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist ideology", with an aim of creating civil disorder and inspiring further violence. The Department of Homeland Security cited[2][3]

a 14-page document released in a Telegram channel favored by accelerationist groups seeking to speed the overthrow of the US government featured a white supremacist instruction guide to low-tech attacks meant to bring chaos, including how to attack a power grid with guns.

While it is unclear whether such threats are directly associated with this attack, government officials have previously expressed concern over the possibility of violent extremists attacking the electrical grid.[2][3] Prior to the Moore County attack, other attacks on the electrical grid had occurred in Metcalf, California in 2013, in Arkansas in 2013, in Utah in 2016 and in Washington and Oregon (dates undisclosed).[4][5][6]

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Civil disorder

Civil disorder

Civil disorder, also known as civil disturbance, civil unrest, or social unrest is a situation arising from a mass act of civil disobedience in which law enforcement has difficulty maintaining their authority.

Telegram (software)

Telegram (software)

Telegram Messenger is a globally accessible freemium, cross-platform, encrypted, cloud-based and centralized instant messaging (IM) service. The application also provides optional end-to-end encrypted chats, popularly known as secret chat and video calling, VoIP, file sharing and several other features. It was launched for iOS on 14 August 2013 and Android on 20 October 2013. The servers of Telegram are distributed worldwide with five data centers in different parts of the world, while the operational center is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Various client apps are available for desktop and mobile platforms including official apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux. There are also two official Telegram web twin apps, WebK and WebZ, and numerous unofficial clients that make use of Telegram's protocol. Telegram's official components are open source, with the exception of the server which is closed-sourced and proprietary.



Accelerationism is a range of Marxist and reactionary ideas in critical and social theory that call for the drastic intensification of capitalist growth, technological change and other social processes in order to destabilize existing systems and create radical social transformation, otherwise known as "acceleration". The term also refers to the post-Marxist idea that because of capitalism's internal contradictions and instabilities which can jeopardize its growth, the abolition of the system and its class structures could be brought about by its acceleration. Various ideas, including Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's idea of deterritorialization, Jean Baudrillard's proposals for "fatal strategies", and aspects of the theoretical systems and processes developed by English philosopher, and later Dark Enlightenment commentator, Nick Land, are crucial influences on accelerationism, which aims to analyze and subsequently promote the social, economic, cultural, and libidinal forces that constitute the process of acceleration.

Metcalf sniper attack

Metcalf sniper attack

On April 16, 2013, an attack was carried out on Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Metcalf transmission substation in Coyote, California, near the border of San Jose. The attack, in which gunmen fired on 17 electrical transformers, resulted in more than $15 million worth of equipment damage, but it had little impact on the station's electrical power supply.


According to Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields, a Duke Energy power substation was severely damaged by gunfire in Carthage at around 7 p.m. Gunfire was later directed at a second substation in West End, ultimately resulting in a loss of electrical power to the majority of the county.[1][7] A journalist from a local newspaper reported that one of the substations' gates had been damaged and was lying in an access road, with the pole holding the gate having been snapped off at the ground.[7]

Outages began starting just after 7 p.m. on December 4 in Moore County and spread to central and southern parts of the county, with roughly 36,000 customers reported to be without power.[7][8] Duke Energy officials indicated that significant, serious damage had occurred to equipment located at the substations and that repairs could take several days.[9]


The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a poster appealing for information on the attack on December 7.[10]
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a poster appealing for information on the attack on December 7.[10]

In addition to the Moore County Sheriff's Department, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and police departments from all eleven municipalities in Moore County are participating in the investigation.[1] The Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) of the Department of Energy is also reported to be assisting.[11][12]

Investigators revealed that they had recovered about two dozen shell-casings, described as being from a "high powered rifle", from the attack sites. These casings were expected to be used to query the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network for possible matches with casings fired from the same weapon at other crime scenes. The casings, some of the only physical evidence available, were also being looked at as a starting point which could lead to other evidence such as tire tracks or shoe prints.[13]

On December 7, 2022, Governor Roy Cooper announced that a reward of up to $75,000 was being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. The money consists of three separate $25,000 rewards, offered by the State of North Carolina, Duke Energy, and Moore County.[14]


Officials have described the attack as "targeted" and "intentional, willful and malicious" but did not immediately provide any information on suspects or a motive for the attack.[1][15]

After the incident, numerous posts on the internet have speculated that the attack was an attempt to disrupt a local drag show that was taking place in the nearby town of Southern Pines that evening; however, these claims are unconfirmed and disputed.[16][17][18]

By December 7, investigators were focusing on two possible motives for the attack. One scenario relates to known online writings by domestic extremists, which encourage attacks on critical infrastructure; the other relates to anti-LGBTQ+ activity. Investigators said they still have no evidence specifically tying the attack to the contemporaneous drag show, but the timing of the two incidents, as well as a general growth in tension around LGBTQ+ events, leads them to consider a possible connection.[19]

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As of December 6, it was estimated that about 35,000 Moore County residents were still without power, and the timeline for completing repairs and restoring power county-wide was revised from December 8 to midnight December 7.[6][20]By the morning of December 7, the number of affected residents without power was down to about 23,000, and power had been restored to the Moore County hospital. Additionally, the Duke Energy website stated "All substation equipment damaged from recent vandalism has either been fully repaired or replaced."[21] By 4 p.m. on December 7, the number of customers remaining without power had dropped to approximately 1,200. As a result, it was announced that the curfew would be permanently lifted as of 5 a.m. on the morning of December 8.[19]

A Moore County resident died during the power outage and investigators are determining whether the death was related to the outage, which could have implications for any criminal charges.[22]


As a result of the power outage, Moore County Regional Hospital was forced to operate on generator power. The town of Southern Pines also had to resort to operating their sewer and water services on backup generators. Residents of the area were asked to stay off the roads if possible or proceed with caution due to the absence of traffic lights.[1]

On December 4, a curfew was placed in effect for Moore County, from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. The nightly curfew was expected to remain in effect until the power was restored. A shelter was established at the Moore County Sports Complex, and Moore County schools were ordered closed from December 5 through December 8 as a result of the power outage.[9][23][24][6]


During a press conference shortly after the attacks, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields claimed the substations were targeted and that attack was intentional. Fields also claimed that the perpetrators most likely knew what they were doing but did not state that the attacks may have been domestic terrorism. The sheriff also reported that his office has not been able to tie anything back to a drag show in Southern Pines, scheduled around the time the power went out, thereby addressing a rumor that began on social media.[8]

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby advised that the White House was monitoring the situation closely, and emphasized the importance of shoring up the security of the infrastructure.[23]

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a statement via Twitter, saying, "An attack like this on critical infrastructure is a serious, intentional crime and I expect state and federal authorities to thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice."[23]

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Domestic terrorism

Domestic terrorism

Domestic terrorism or homegrown terrorism is a form of terrorism in which victims "within a country are targeted by a perpetrator with the same citizenship" as the victims. There are many definitions of terrorism, and none of them are universally accepted. The United States Department of State defined terrorism in 2003 as "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience." However, the U.S. government cannot charge someone with domestic terrorism because no such criminal law exists.

John Kirby (admiral)

John Kirby (admiral)

John Francis Kirby is a retired rear admiral in the United States Navy serving as Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House since late May 2022. He previously served as Pentagon Press Secretary for the first year and a half of the Biden Administration, and worked as a military and diplomatic analyst for CNN from 2017 to 2021. Prior to that, he served in the Obama administration as the spokesperson for the United States Department of State from 2015 to 2017.

Roy Cooper

Roy Cooper

Roy Asberry Cooper III is an American attorney and politician, serving as the 75th governor of North Carolina since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 49th attorney general of North Carolina from 2001 to 2017. He also served in the North Carolina General Assembly in both the House of Representatives (1987–1991) and Senate (1991–2001).

Source: "Moore County substation attack", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th),

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See also
  1. ^ a b c d e "'Intentional, willful and malicious': 40K without power after substation attacks in Moore County". The Fayetteville Observer. December 4, 2022. Retrieved December 4, 2022 – via Associated Press.
  2. ^ a b "Gunfire that cut power to a North Carolina county was a selfish and cruel act that has hurt thousands, mayor says". CNN. December 6, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Attacks on US power grid have been subject of extremist chatter for years. DHS bulletin warns of attacks on critical infrastructure amid other targets". CNN. December 5, 2022.
  4. ^ "The attacks on power substations in Moore County weren't the first of their kind".
  5. ^ "Other states reporting power outage attacks similar to North Carolina, Moore County, document says". December 7, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "North Carolina power outage: Federal memo flags Washington, Oregon substation attacks similar to Moore County". Fox News. December 7, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c "Shootings at power substations cause North Carolina outages". Associated Press. December 4, 2022. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Salahieh, Nouran (December 5, 2022). "More than 30,000 customers remain without power in North Carolina after 2 substations were damaged by gunfire. Here's what we know". CNN. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  9. ^ a b "State of Emergency declared, FBI investigating power grid attack in Moore County, sheriff says". WSOC-TV. December 4, 2022. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  10. ^ "US warned of terrorism threats days before attack on Moore County power grid". WRAL-TV. Capitol Broadcasting Company. December 7, 2022. Retrieved December 7, 2022.
  11. ^ "Duke Energy Responds to Outages Caused by Substation Vandalism".
  12. ^ "Gunfire on N.C. substations causes widespread power outages".
  13. ^ "Nearly 2 dozen shell casings found in North Carolina electric substation shootings that cut power for thousands, sources say". CNN. December 7, 2022.
  14. ^ "Reward offered for info leading to arrest, conviction in Moore County substation attack".
  15. ^ Rubin, April; Albeck-Ripka, Livia; Stevens, Matt (December 4, 2022). "North Carolina Power Outages Caused by Gunfire at Substations, Officials Say". The New York Times. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  16. ^ "Moore County authorities investigate social posts claiming knowledge of Moore County blackout". WRAL-TV. Capitol Broadcasting Company. December 4, 2022. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  17. ^ "Terrorists Attack a Drag Show in Moore County, North Carolina". Gay Pride - LGBT and Queer Voices. December 4, 2022. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  18. ^ Talhelm, Matt. "'We don't scare that easy:' Performers in protested drag show describe the moment the power went out in Moore County".
  19. ^ a b "Investigators are zeroing in on two possible motives centered around extremist behavior in NC power stations attacks, sources say". CNN. December 7, 2022.
  20. ^ "More than 10,000 customers restored as Duke Energy continues progress in Moore County" (Press release). Duke Energy. December 6, 2022.
  21. ^ Johnson, Kristen; Quillin, Martha; Baumgartner Vaughan, Dawn (December 9, 2022). "Power back on at Moore County hospital, substation repaired, as FBI seeks information". The News & Observer. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  22. ^ "Person found dead in Moore County after power grid attack". December 6, 2022.
  23. ^ a b c Athans, Elaina (December 7, 2022). "White House closely monitoring Moore County power grid attack, National Security Council says". ABC11. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  24. ^ "All-Out Effort Underway to Investigate Power Station Attack". The Pilot. December 5, 2022. Retrieved January 17, 2023.

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